Saturday, May 22, 2010

To the Mattresses Week 20 - Movie Extra - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I'm a card carrying member of the comic book nerd nation, so when most people were asking me which spring/summer film I was most looking forward to, they expected me to say Iron Man 2.  And I can't lie, I was excited for it, but it's not what I planned a rare day off from work around.  I knew IM2 would be playing at every cinema nearby (all two) on at least two screens.  Seeing it would only be a matter of having a spare two hours in my day.

So I was anxious to see it, but not "dying" for it.  In my circles, that's tantamount to treason, punishable by a member of the Geek Gestapo knocking on my door and folding back the corners on my comics.  So perhaps a blog wasn't the best place to admit this.  Is that S.H.I.E.L.D. gathering outside my door?

No, the film that I drove 45 minutes to see, at the ONE arthouse cinema in central Maine (how sad is that?) is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  Thankfully, Railroad Square Cinema has been showing it for the past few weeks, and this week I finally had the time to go see it.  And it didn't' disappoint.

For those of you who haven't read the book yet...
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, ruthless computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from almost forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vanger's are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.  Written by Music Box Films

Let me start by saying, this might have been one of the best adaptations of a novel I've seen in recent memory.  The book is quite dense, with many characters and multiple points of view.  I was expecting certain omissions, of which there were a few, but didn't find myself missing them at all.  They were removed skillfully, and as I was told, didn't detract from the story.  In actuality, it was the few things added that were most interesting.  I won't go into great detail, but the film does show a young Lisbeth in a few scenes.

I'm a nut for directors, and it pains me to never having seen any of Niels Arden Oplev's work.  I'm not too hard on myself, as he has yet to direct anything I've heard of previous to this.  That will change.  His direction was solid, and he was unflinching when it came to showing the audience a few scenes we could be uncomfortable with.  He wasn't exploitive in a "torture porn" kind of way, but he knew where to point his camera and how long to keep it there.  I find it quite unfortunate that he will not be directing the sequel.

Thankfully, the actors will return, and it is because of them that I would rate this movie very high.  Michael Nyqvist is excellent as Mikael Blomkvist.  It's a role that could have been easily overplayed, but Nyqvist was solemn in the role.  His Blomkvist never got overly excited or terribly down.  Hell, I make him sound boring as hell, but he was the glue that definitely held the film together.  He was believable, and that's the best thing I can say about him.

But the true breakout star of the film was Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander.  Honestly, they should shelf the remake right now because I can't think of a single American actress who can compete with this performance.  She WAS the character, and managed to pull off a tremendous amount of characterization without always speaking.  Her eyes were always "thinking," if that makes any sense.  Her scenes with her tormentor, the lawyer Nils Bjurman, were hypnotic.  Just look at the poster above.  Those eyes!

Okay, I might as well talk about the elephant in the review.  This is going to be remade for American audiences, which is a shame because so few who see it might be bothered to seek out the original.  And the remake could be good, hell it could be great.  David Fincher is one of the best directors working today, and he has yet to make a film that isn't at the very least, damn good.   Over at IMDB, they list not only Brad Pitt, but Johnny Depp and George Clooney as rumors for Blomkvist role.  It has the makings of a major hit, but it's also listed as 2012 for a release date. 

The sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire is due out, in Europe anyway, in September, which will probably mean a March-ish release date for the US.  Those of you within walking distance to Canada can see it at Christmastime.  The third part, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, is due in Europe in November.  There is a good chance the entire Millenium Trilogy, as it is called in Sweden, will be available for viewing before the opening credits of the remake roll in an American cinema. 

The Region One DVD is scheduled for release on July 6th.

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